Joys of Gardening With Grandchildren

The author/artist granddaughter picking tomatoes to eaThis past summer my daughter who lives in Spain came with her husband and children to California for a five-week visit.

Their oldest daughter Anushka loves to garden. She is now six years old. Every time the family comes to visit Anushka and I have fun gardening. While they were here we planted some vegetables and seeds together, picked tomatoes and strawberries, and pulled out vegetables that were spent. Anushka was able to experience the cycle of the vegetables; lettuce, purslane and arugula. She had the experience of planting them as well as seeing them regrow from seeds in the soil after we had pulled the old ones out.

Monarch Butterfly in the Garden
Monarch Butterfly on Asclepias curassavica

This summer people have been amazed by the multitudes of butterflies in Southern California. My granddaughters and I had so much fun gardening and playing in the garden all the while butterflies and dragonflies floated as if “lazily” overhead. For months I have been curious as to this fabulous phenomenon. I was thinking that it was possibly due to so many of us planting the plants that caterpillars love to eat and build their chrysalis on such as Asclepias curassavica. Also the fact that many of us through the years have become organic gardeners. And many more people plant vegetable gardens which also may encourage a variety of colorful butterflies and dragonflies to our gardens. Gardeners  have been planting milkweed to encourage the Monarchs to their gardens. My grandchildren got to experience seeing the magnificent and beautiful chrysalises of Monarch butterflies and then the butterflies just emerged and still wet on a branch. This is a link to a blog post that I wrote on butterflies. Butterflies in Our Gardens

Monarch Chrysalis
Monarch Chrysalis

I checked the Internet to find the answer to this interesting phenomenon. The article below speaks of this fascinating development in England also this calendar year 2013.

Britain’s butterfly population seems to have exploded this year, the buddleia bushes are bursting, the veg patches are teaming and there seems to be an invasion happening in my home.

Every day for the last week or so I have had to rescue at least one trapped butterfly from my cottage. They seem to appear from nowhere and crash desperately and repeatedly into the windows leaving their precious wing powder behind. I was always taught not to hold a butterfly as the powder comes off on your hands and that’s what helps them fly, I’ve no idea if this is true or not, but I like the idea of magic flying dust so I find myself leaping about with a pint glass in one hand and beer mat in the other trying desperately to channel Gerald Durrell and catch the frightened insect.

 British butterflies have been in decline over the last 10 years with a 24% decrease in the common garden types like the Red Admiral and Cabbage White.

My childhood was full of butterflies and then they all seemed to disappear. British butterflies have been in decline over the last 10 years with a 24% decrease in the common garden types like the Red Admiral and Cabbage White so how come we are seeing this year’s butterfly boom?

Despite being around for at least 50 million years butterflies are fragile things that are hugely affected by environmental factors, their habitats are disappearing and more and more pesticides are being sprayed around the countryside which has resulted in our summers seeing fewer and fewer of these beautiful winged creatures fluttering about their business.

Peter Eeles, Chairman of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight branch of Butterfly Conservation attributes this year’s boom to three major contributors – the first is that we had a ‘proper’ winter (i.e. cold) which suppresses the ability for parasites and mould to kill off any stages that are overwintering. The second is that we’ve had a good summer and the fine weather has allowed the caterpillars to rapidly feed up – which gives less time for predators to find them (especially birds). And thirdly the sunny weather has allowed butterflies to maximise the time spent finding a mate, and for females to egg-lay – and for multi-brooded species we’ll see the second or third hatches and in good numbers.

So it’s excellent news for Britain’s butterflies this year and you can do your bit to encourage them into your garden by planting butterfly friendly flowers like buddleias and marigolds or visit the butterfly plants website for a list of their favourite plants to feast and lay on and let’s hope we continue to see them flourish and flutter by.  Metro Newspaper.

Anushka and I also planted a succulent planter. Check out a blog post that I wrote on this subject.  Create Your Own Wall Succulent Hanging Planter

My granddaughter was having fun playing with her fairy princes and princesses in the planter before it was finished as you can see from the photo.551269_10202027462358247_1738213328_n

I just recently read an article in First for Women Magazine that talks about how gardening alleviates stress in a person. Our lives are so stressful these days. Every time I go out and work in my garden my stress goes completely away. And I think, why didn’t I do this sooner!

The #1 Way to Nix The Stress of Daily Pressures:

When too many demands leave you feeling exhausted, take a time-out to tend your garden. Researchers in the Netherlands discovered that subjects who spend thirty minutes outdoors pulling weeds and planting flowers experience a significantly greater reduction in levels of acute stress—the kind created by rushing from one to-do to the next—than those who stayed indoors and read for a half hour. The authors of the study explain that soil contains a bacterium (called M. vaccae) that boosts the production of the happy hormone serotonin and relieves anxiety.

Sometimes I forget to get into the garden. Now is a great time to buy the winter vegetables to plant in California. We are so lucky here to be able to garden outdoors year round! I am so thankful for the blessing of working in the earth.

Succulent Planter That Author/Artist Granddaughter Created
Succulent Planter That Author/Artist Granddaughter Created

Have Fun Gardening!

Bye for Now


South Beach FF
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